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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    A new window for the living room. Bling for the dining room. @westelm #mywestelm Olive browsing @schoolhouse and drooling over all the amazing items. Stopped when I saw the nearly identical green wool blanket I bought at a consignment shop for $30. Totally patting myself on the back for saving $165. A new plant for the DIY stand. I guess my aloe didn't like this spot. Oh well, bigger and better snake plant!

Panoramic Views

More often than not, Ben and I are totally fine working on projects together.  By now, I know how he thinks and am usually decent at predicting what he’ll need and how I can help.  Then there are times that I feel completely and utterly useless.  As was the case when removing and replacing the large living room window.  Here’s an older picture to help you remember what the wooden gridded window looked like.

Living-Room-Sofa-Two-Years-Later

It’s huge, measuring 10 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet tall.  Even though it’s divided into three sections, that middle piece is heavy.  Long story short, getting that big piece out without causing us or surroundings damage was stressful, but well worth it.  Not only does it match the rest of the windows now, it’s no longer a focal point.

New-Window-in-Living-Room-Front

(How am I just now noticing how off center the couch is?)  Before, the darker wood looked heavy and the grids broke up the view.  Without the break up, it feels bigger and brighter, while putting the attention on the views.

New-Window-in-Living-Room

Framing, trim, and touch up paint still happen soon, too.

New-Window-in-Living-Room-Vertical

The new window isn’t the only panoramic view going on now.  We finally have a real dining light.  Specifically, the Panorama Chandelier from West Elm.  Not sure why, but it says no longer available.  Strange, I just ordered mine on the 14th.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Living-into-Dining

It caught my eye months ago while browsing, but I nixed it because I thought the open bottom would cast a harsh light directly into our eyes.  Almost with laser beam precision, burning our retinas.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Dining-from-Living

After sharing other options, a few lovely ladies asked why this one wasn’t on the list.  Which made me reconsider my quick nix of this beauty.  Then I saw the 20% off lighting sale, and I had a 15% off coupon, so it hopped in my cart for $300 with shipping.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Dining-from-Living-On

It doesn’t disappoint.  Straight lined and simple, but the speckled mirrored glass is slightly glam and looks much like mercury glass.  Dark metal is a nice match to the West Elm entry light, too.  (See one of the arms in the reflection?)

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Dining-Reflection

Inside, there’s a slightly golden tinted layer that bounces the light around and makes the glow warm and soft.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Dining-Vertical

Without a diffuser, the light still isn’t in our eyes when seated.  In fact, even I have to crouch down a little to see the bulbs.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-Underside

Three 25 watt bulbs are adequate to light the table, but not overpowering or blindingly bright.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-on-at-Night

We can finally eat in here now that the sun is setting earlier.  Three cheers for function and beauty.

West-Elm-Panorama-Chandelier-on-at-Night-Vertical

We’re nearing the end of our siding, so hopefully that wall will get a spray of texture and paint soon.  Good thing the light helps draw attention away from the unfinished-ness.

Box it Like it’s Hot

This project is a shameless West Elm knock off.  The Contrast boxes are fun and useful in nearly any room.

But, only the tray is available right now.  Hence the knock off.  I found the perfect wood while picking up some other supplies at Home Depot.  In the aisle with pre-cut sheets (varying thickness MDF, peg board, and plywood), I saw these 1/2 inch thick solid oak boards.  Only $2.50 per 1/2 inch by 5.5 inch by 2 foot board.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Oak

I grabbed three and started building when I got back home.  Using the width of the plank as my top and base, I cut two rectangles at 8 inches.  To create the sides, I cut mitered corners to fit around the base.  Not on top, as I did with my recent tray project.  So the inside of my long pieces were 8 inches, short sides at 5.5 inches.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Assembly

This is where a pin nailer comes in very handy.  For each side, I’d brush wood glue on each corner or joint, hold it in place until square, and then shoot four or five 3/4 inch long nails in.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Glued-and-Nailed

It leaves teeny holes, but holds everything together until the glue sets.  For my triangle lamps, I used this same method of nails and glue and they’ve held up perfectly.  Now, to deal with the recessed top.

West Elm’s version has a routered top, but I decided it would be quicker and just as effective to add little ‘posts’ to each corner.  After measuring the inside of the box, I subtracted a half-inch and glued them in.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Unfinished-Inside

My top is a 5.5 by 8 inch rectangle, allowing it to rest inside the frame, on atop the corner posts.  To accommodate the leather strap handle, I measured my leather.  At 3/16 thick, I cut a slightly larger slot by drilling holes in each end and connecting the pieces with a funky vibrating saw.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Unfinished-Top

Before finishing, I sanded everything with fine paper.  Using stain and paint I already had, I finished the outside with stain, and the inside and top edge with paint.  Four coats of Polycrylic to protect everything and give a little shine.  For under eight dollars, I have a cute box to stash our junk on the coffee table.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-on-Living-Room

It’s a nice wooden accent, but I’m worried it looks too tall.  Almost like a Kleenex box cover.  I might make a shorter one…

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Finished-Outside

At any rate, it holds lotions, chapstick, nail clippers, and the boys’ toothbrushes.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Finished-Inside

The leather handle is a lot easier for the boys to open than the metal bin we had used.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Leather-Handle

I couldn’t think of a better way to attach the strap, so I stapled it to the underside of the cover.  I’m guessing West Elm attached their handle differently.  Haha.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Leather-Handle-Underside

A lower, longer box would be great to hold our remotes, too.  I could also use one in the bathroom for first aid supplies.

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Room

I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.

Square-Tray-Edge-Detail

Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail

 

Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.

Square-Tray-Top-Detail

For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail-Underside

And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Corner

Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table

In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf-Overall

Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf

The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Chevron Leaves

Recently, I promised myself I’d bring more green and naturals into our house.  The bathroom is sporting a new lush look, why not add some to the living room?

Main-Bathroom-Green-Vanity-Overall

Until now I had my quirky sit and stay text bubble pillows on the chairs:

Map-Art-by-Window-in-Living-Room-Overall

Not at all natural, were they?  For a quick change, I pulled out a remnant of mossy green linen.  Great color, but alone it looked boring.

Green-Leaf-Pillow-in-Living-Room

Inspired by nature, I stamped a leaf design.  Three cheers for new life to that side of the living room!  Look at my plants, too.  Four over there, including the finicky maiden hair fern.  I haven’t killed it.  In fact, it has a ton of new growth.  It’s a miracle!

Green-Leaf-Pillow-on-Chair

After debating patterns (random, circles, lines) I settled on a chevron pattern.

To create the uneven texture, I used a piece of a foam to go box as a stamp.  Using a knife, I cut out a leaf shape.  A pencil tip worked perfectly to press light veins into the leaf.

Stamping-Supplies-Green-Leaf-Pillows

Stamping was quick and I didn’t fuss over evenness of the paint or placement.

Stamping-Green-Leaf-Pillows

Green-Leaf-Pillow-Detail

Green is good for my mood; it perks me and my home up.  Fun and fresh without being crazy or dramatic.

Green-Leaf-Pillow-in-Chairs

Green-Leaf-Pillows-in-Living-Room

What’s your favorite color to decorate with?

Faux Real

I’m still changing things in the living room.  The triangle lamps I made just weren’t perfect in the room.  Quite honestly, they got knocked over a lot because the bases are very light weight.

Honed-Marble-End-Table-Top-Right-Side

I still love them, so they’re in our bedroom and out-of-the-way of little hands.  While dropping a few things off at the thrift store, I spotted this lamp for five bucks.

Ceramic-Lamp-Before-Faux-Zinc

Instantly loved the shape, but not the design.  If it were only leaves, I think it would have looked beautiful.  The flowers and orange were too much for my taste.  So, I changed it up, inspired by pretty zinc lamps like this:

And this Zinc lamp from A Place in the Garden:

Before I could start spraying, I taped off the socket, cord and wood base.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Taped-for-Spray-Paint

Then gave the lamp two coats of gray primer, holding it upside down for the second to get the undersides.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Sprayed-Gray

To create the aged effect, I diluted white craft paint with an equal amount of water.  Using a 1/2 inch craft brush, I applied the mixture to 4 inch sections all around the lamp.  Don’t go for even here and let it puddle and drip.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-White-Wash

I followed up with a very crumpled, slightly damp paper towel.  Lightly blotting pulled off the extra, but I left enough to look worn.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-White-Wash-Blotted

Here it is after it dried:

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Finish-Dry

Liking the finish, I pulled the tape off and realized I didn’t want to keep the wooden base.  So I taped off the upper lamp and sprayed just the wood base gray.  After the faux finish, I had a zinc looking lamp that won’t tip over easily.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Overall

I also swapped the shade for a white drum I had for a sleeker look.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Finish

For added protection, I sprayed the lamp with three coats of clear matte.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Detail

For $5, I’m super happy with the look.  What do you think?  Have you tried a faux zinc finish?  Now to find the perfect floor lamp for the other side.

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